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Tannehill Sees Valuable Role for Rookie Running Back

Darrynton Evans experience, potential as a pass-catcher 'can give defenses a hard time.'

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a lot of high-caliber playmakers around him on offense.

He’s got a star running back in Derrick Henry. He’s got a true No. 1 wide receiver in A.J. Brown. He’s got an up and coming threat in tight end Jonnu Smith.

As the 2020 season approaches, Tannehill sees at least one other in his arsenal: third-round pick Darrynton Evans, a running back by way of Appalachian State and someone with whom he familiarized himself in the weeks after the draft.

“I'm really excited about (Evans),” Tannehill said during a video press conference Thursday. “I was able to throw with him down in Florida several times over the offseason. And obviously, he's been here as well. Just a talented guy. He's very explosive, very fast.”

The biggest advantage Evans has is his familiarity with the scheme and what is expected of him. During his senior season at Appalachian State, Evans studied the Titans’ offense with his teammates in an effort to enhance their own attack.

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While Henry figures to receive most of the carries, Evans has an opportunity to make an in a place where the Titans need an impact player: the screen game.

“I actually signed at Appalachian State as an ‘athlete,’ knowing I was coming in just trying to get on the field,” Evans said on draft day. “… So, even when I first came into App State, we had the all-time leading rusher who rushed for 5,000 yards, and then behind him was Jalin Moore, who’s now with the Jets. So, they just wanted to get me on the field at the same time as them and playing receiver and running back would be the best way for me to get on the field.”

Earlier this offseason, the Titans released pass-catching back Dion Lewis, who caught 84 passes, including a career-high 59 in 2018, for 164 yards and two touchdowns in two seasons with Tennessee. Henry has only caught 57 passes over the course of four seasons.

Although Evans mostly shined as a runner during his collegiate career (482 carries for 2,884 yards and 25 touchdowns), his elusiveness, according to Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark, makes him a threat anywhere.

Evans caught 39 passes for 319 yards and six touchdowns over four years as a Mountaineer. He scored five of those six touchdowns as a senior and finished his college career with 3,203 total yards from scrimmage.

“When you see a running back catch the ball naturally, whether they're coming out of the backfield or split out wide, it definitely adds another element to the offense and can give defenses a hard time,” Tannehill said. “Really excited about having Darrynton with us.”